During Thursday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Zain Verjee exclaimed about how much “the world is waiting” for President Obama to begin his international travels: “The world wants Obama, the road show.” She also gushed over how his “rock star vibe will make his personal diplomacy a much more potent tool” and how he will be in “really big demand overseas.”
The correspondent made her “road show” comment during an introduction to a short report on the President’s first trip to Canada, which gave a little history of the past two presidents’ first foreign trips, and also possible other overseas destinations for the commander-in-chief in the near future. The report also featured two clips from Darrell West of the Brookings Institution, who highlighted the importance of international trips for President Obama, and how other world leaders will want to interact with him, in order to “get a piece of him, find out who he is, what his priorities are.”
After her report, Verjee gave her “rock star vibe” line. Anchor Wolf Blitzer then asked, “His personal background -- how much of a difference do you think that will make?” The correspondent replied, “Yeah, it’s going to be a critical difference, because beyond the media attention, beyond the public interest, beyond the potency of his office -- he’s really considered a world citizen. He has ties to people in places no other president has had.”
In other words, Verjee is referring to the President’s years in Indonesia, as well as his familial ties to Kenya. On that note, if McCain had been elected, would the mainstream media highlight how he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and his many years in a Vietnamese POW camp?
The full transcript of Verjee’s report, which aired at the bottom-half of the 4 pm Eastern hour of Thursday’s Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER: So much on his agenda -- the president of the United States -- he’s got a huge economic crisis at home. He’s also got major national security issues, and now, there’s word he’s planning a visit to a foreign country, the first of its kind. Let’s bring in Zain Verjee -- she’s working at this story. Zain, where is he going and when is he going?
ZAIN VERJEE: Well Wolf, the first travels of a new president always have great symbolic value, and the world is waiting.
VERJEE (voice-over): The world wants Obama, the road show.
DARRELL WEST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It is important for President Obama to travel around the world, even though our -- his chief focus has to be on the domestic economy, the global situation very much affects that economy.
VERJEE: Only one foreign trip has been nailed down for President Obama -- Canada, February 19th.
President Bush’s first trip was to Mexico on February 16th, 2001. President Bill Clinton took his first foreign trip in April of 1993 to Vancouver, Canada, and met with Russia’s leader. President Obama will have to consider going to key world meetings. Just in April alone, 20 countries with the largest economies meet in London; a NATO meeting in France; the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. President Obama has also promised to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital.
WEST: He is the new kid on the block, so every world leader wants to get a piece of him, find out who he is, what his priorities are. Obama talked a lot during the campaign about how he wants the United States to act differently, and so leaders around the world want to see exactly what does that mean.
VERJEE (on-camera): Some experts say Mr. Obama’s rock star vibe will make his personal diplomacy a much more potent tool, and he is going to be in really big demand overseas, Wolf.
BLITZER: He certainly will be. His personal background -- how much of a difference do you think that will make?
VERJEE: Yeah, it’s going to be a critical difference, because beyond the media attention, beyond the public interest, beyond the potency of his office -- he’s really considered a world citizen. He has ties to people in places no other president has had.
BLITZER: He certainly does, and he made a point of that, especially in that interview with Al Arabiya.
VERJEE: Right, exactly.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Zain, for that.